The effects of swimming training in coldwater on antioxidant enzyme activity and lipid peroxidation in erythrocytes of male and female aged rats

Anna Lubkowska, Iwona Bryczkowska, Izabela Gutowska, Iwona Rotter, Natalia Marczuk, Irena Baranowska-Bosiacka, Giuseppe Banfi

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The aim of this study was to verify whether eight-week-long swimming exercise training would evaluate the level of selected indicators of the pro-oxidant/antioxidant status in response to cold water in comparison with swimming under thermoneutral conditions in sedentary male and female elderly rats. The exercise-trained groups swam four min/day and five days a week during eight weeks of housing. Exercise was performed by swimming in glass tanks containing tap water maintained according to group at 5 °C and 36 °C. At the end of treatment (48 h after the last session), all rats were anaesthetized. The level of chosen biomarkers of oxidative stress and antioxidant enzyme activity was determined in the red blood cells and plasma. The results of study show that female rats seem to be better adapted to changing thermal conditions of the environment, developing not only morphological, but also antioxidant, defense mechanisms, mainly in the form of increased erythrocyte superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity and glutathione (GSH) concentration to restore the pro-oxidant/oxidant balance of the organism. Significantly higher concentrations of GSH were observed in the female rats of the group swimming in cold water (by 15.4% compared to the control group and by 20.5% in relation to the group of female rats swimming at 36 °C). In the group exposed to swimming training exercise in cold water, a significantly higher activity of SOD1 (by 13.4%) was found compared to the control group. On the other hand, the organs of ageing male rats show a reduced capacity to increase the metabolic response to low temperatures compared to female ones. In addition, it was demonstrated that cold exposure leads to an increase in lipid peroxidation in tissues. On the other hand, the repeated exposure to low levels of oxidative stress may result in some adaptive changes in organisms that help them to resist stress-induced damage.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberE647
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2 2019


  • Antioxidant enzymes
  • Cold swim
  • Elderly rats
  • Lipids peroxidation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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